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Special needs funds alert

The amount of money that schools are given for special educational needs differs wildly, according to a new analysis of budget figures, and this leaves some schools in a poor position to implement the new Code of Practice .

Writing in this week's TES Management Update, barrister and educationist Peter Bibby suggests that schools in a borough like Ealing have only Pounds 347 per 100 children to cope with their special needs while, at the other extreme, Barnet schools have Pounds 3,277 per 100.

These sums vary according to the proportion of the special needs budget given to schools.

Crucially, he says, it is now possible for teachers to calculate the extent of their financial obligations to special needs pupils in their schools. Beyond this "threshold", he says, they should be free to turn to the local education authority for additional resources through a statement of special educational needs. The notional "thresholds" for all authorities are listed in a separate table.

The Code of Practice, introduced last autumn, assumes that schools will do much to cater for special educational needs before they turn to their LEA for extra cash. But Mr Bibby suggests that some schools will have so little cash to start with that the code will be hard to follow.

It was always understood that the code would hold schools to account for their special needs money. It is now emerging that schools can, in their turn, scrutinise the activities of LEAs - with a view to ensuring that they do not pay more than their fair share.

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